Design Professional Project Management, Pt. 1: Adding Value

by Dorothy Amundson, PWCA - Account Executive, Cavignac & Associates
In today’s highly competitive environment, your firm has to work towards educating your client to understand the value a design firm brings to their project. Fees for design professionals have eroded based on fierce competition and fewer projects. Project owners have taken advantage of these market conditions by demanding lower fees and pushing firms to agree to unfavorable contract terms that increase risk.  Differentiate your firm from the competition by educating your client about the project, insights on challenges and risks, and quality of the services offered. This puts your firm in a better position for requesting higher fees, reducing the overall risk for the firm and the client, and increasing client satisfaction.   Meeting a client’s project objectives, and keeping them satisfied is critical for your firm and the success of a project. Identifying project challenges and risks that lead to problems will lower your risk of claims and litigation.As a design professional, design services are at the core of your business – having the technical ability is an expected skill. Adding value means demonstrating knowledge of a specific project type and the associated risks, and then having the expertise to address those risks effectively. This requires an experienced and knowledgeable staff, and efficient processes to manage risk.

Every hour a member of your firm spends on the project should add value in some way. This only works if everyone working on the project knows the specific challenges, what is valued in the eyes of the client, and how each member plays their role towards project completion.